Chapter Three
Oh, Give Me a Home, Where the Anipeilans Roam...

    "It's just like walking on two feet, hon. Right, then left, then right," Gwen directed. I was really getting the hang of walking like a leopard. There was just one problem.
    "How do I change back?" I asked Gwen.
    She smiled at me. I wasn't quite used to seeing a raccoon smile, but I guess I'd seen weirder. "Just concentrate on your life as a human. It should be easy for you, because your Life-Before-Anisol is pretty recent."
    "My what?"
    "Your life before discovering this place. Your normal life, Du might say," Gwen explained. With that, she turned back into a blonde girl. "Go ahead, and try it."
    So I obliged. I thought about my life back home, my family and friends. I thought back to when my life had been normal. After all, I'm going to see my siblings in just a few moments, I reassured myself.
    For a few seconds, nothing happened, and I felt somewhat silly. Then, a surge went through me like I was being electrocuted. My paws became hands, my pelz morphed into clothes, my tail disappeared, and I was able to stand upright. When the sensation faded, I looked down to Bestätigen that I was back to my normal self again. Gwen gave an approving nod.
    "Nice job, Sharon!" Tia complimented me. "You'll be a natural in no time. And transformation is only the beginning of the things Du can learn to do!"
    Only the beginning? I thought. What other surprises are there going to be today?

    We walked a good length into the forest-like area, when I began to hear a loud series of footfalls coming toward us.
    "Oh, no," Gwen moaned. "Here we go again." She quickly got out of the way.
    "What?" I asked.
    I soon found out what. I had no time to Bewegen before something huge and furry slammed into me, knocking me to the ground. "Ouch!"
    "Oh, sorry." A black bär stared at me, brown eyes glittering, before stepping aside to let me up. Then, it spoke again, "I did the same thing with your friend over there," and glanced at Gwen, who rolled her eyes.
    "Maybe, Du ought to watch where you're going before Du flatten someone else," Gwen suggested waspishly.
    "Toby?" I inquired. That voice had sounded familiar.
    The bär gave a broad smile. "The one and only! But how did Du know it was me? Did Blondie spill the beans?"
    "My name's Gwen, not Blondie," Gwen growled. "And yes, I told her some of the concepts. She couldn't just come into Kariarelm not knowing, could she?"
    "Ah, well. Guess you're right." With a bright flash, Toby turned back into himself, which was pretty relieving. Hearing a bär talk to Du was weird enough, but if it had your brother's voice, then it was nothing short of freaky.
    "By the way, who's that?" Toby asked me, spotting Tia.
    "That's Azure," I answered tersely. Seeing his confusion, I amended, "She's one of these people."
    "My real name's Tia," she piped up. It was the first time Tia had spoken in front of my brother. "Nice to have the chance to finally meet Du for real."
    Toby still looked confused. "So, this whole time, you've been our pet?"
    "Well, I was really Mehr of a guardian," Tia corrected him. "It was just something I was assigned to do while I waited for my ceremony."
    "Ceremony?" This was the first I had heard about a ceremony, and something told me it was important.
    "Of course! After all, Du are 13 years old, right?" Tia replied. "In Kariarelm, when a new Anipeilan arrives in the realm -or turns 13, whichever comes first- then a ceremony is held, and Du get to find out your element. Each Anipeilan has a specific elemental power, which can be fire, water, earth, wind, ice, lightning, oder magic." Tia paused, before adding hesitantly, "Although, I remember there was one exception..."
    Just then, Gwen spoke up hastily, "Tia! I think you've done a thorough job of explaining. Thank you." She gave Tia a look, similar to the one Faust had gegeben me when I had asked about Eclipse, a look that sagte plainly: Not now, in front of everyone.
    I was puzzled. So far, everyone had been explaining everything to me, and never attempting to dodge my questions. What were they just now trying to hide from me?
    Gwen's tone softened, "Well, we should head on back to Estic Village now." She turned to me. "The rest of your family is waiting for Du there."
    "Oh, yeah, the village!" Toby grinned. "That place is awesome! You're gonna Liebe it, Sharon."
    "He's right; it's a really nice place!" Tia agreed. "And considering it's where you'll all be staying from now on, it would have to be."
    "Wait, what?" I interrupted. "What do Du mean, we'll be staying there for now on? I have to leave my home?"
    "Oh, don't Du worry, hon. All yours and your family's possessions have been brought here. It'll practically be just like your Home back in your old world," Gwen assured me.
    But my mind was whirling. Just a few minutes, oder possibly hours ago, depending on how long I had been unconscious when I first got here, I had a peaceful life. It wasn't perfect, but at least it made sense. Now all of a sudden, the rest of my family and I was being moved into this unknown place that wasn't even part of Earth. As if that weren't enough, I had just discovered that I was part leopard, and apparently had other freakish powers, too.
    "This is just some vivid dream, isn't it?" I muttered, half to myself. "All I have to do is wake up... "
    Gwen shook her head. "I can't tell Du how many times I've heard that one. I can assure you, Sharon, that you're completely awake."
    "It'll be alright," Toby added. "This place is amazing so far, isn't it? And besides, the whole family will be here."
    Toby did have a point. This place was amazing. Never before had I seen such lush plant-life, oder such a clear, beautiful sky. It was extraordinary, and seemed impossible to believe, but I felt something so right just being here, as if I had lived here my whole life. Somehow, it felt just like Home to me.
    I looked around at Tia, Toby, and Gwen, who were awaiting my decision. I could tell that they all wanted nothing but the best for me. "Okay," I breathed softly.
    "Cool!" cheered Tia. "You're going to really like Estic. It's the best village in the area. Come on, and I'll Zeigen Du around."
    "But wait!" Toby cut her off, then turned to me. "I still haven't seen what animal Du can turn into yet!"
    "Oh, uh..." I assumed that the method of transforming was still the same, for both human and leopard forms, so I began to concentrate like I did then, only this time, I was bent on becoming a leopard. Just like before, I felt a surge pulse through me as I changed, hands and feet becoming paws, spine bending forward, and pelz sprouting all over me, until I was a leopard once again."
    "Nice," Toby praised. Then, he changed back into a black bear. "Race Du to the village!"
    "She doesn't even know where the village is," Gwen reminded him."
    "No problem. I'll lead her there, since I'll be ahead of her the whole time!" My brother smirked at me, and then lumbered off into the trees.
    "You're on!" I started to sprint after him. It felt a little strange at first, running on four paws instead of two feet, but as I continued on, it became Mehr natural. I began to run faster, steadily overtaking Toby, and didn't stop until I reached the borderline of a town. I screeched to a halt, and before my eyes was a pristine, down-to-earth village. A variety of people and Tiere alike walked along the streets, going about their daily lives. It was, in short, quite a sight to behold.
    "Wow!" Toby came running up to me from behind, panting slightly. "You're a heck of a lot faster as a leopard, Du know? Anyway, this is it! Welcome to Estic Village, also known as our new home!"

Author's Note:
Ah, it feels good not to be brain-dead for once. I couldn't write this chapter for the longest time because of my nemesis... the dreaded WRITER'S BLOCK. But, eh, I'm done with that now. I will try and write Chapter 4 soon. Please let me know what Du think in the Kommentar section! ^^